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Series / Happy Together

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"Let's pretend we're happy to be together"

Dasha: We, the Bukins, never call each other names. We have neighbors for that.

Dasha: Gena, why do you never take me to the beach?
Gena: What's the point? You just find your way back.

Sounds familiar? Well, it should.

Happy Together is a Russian remake of Married... with Children which aired on the Russian network TNT between 2006 and 2013. What makes it particularly notable is that the remake not only covered (almost) all of the original episodes, but also had over a hundred new episodes, some of which were co-written by the original Married...with Children writers, kind of a semi-official continuation of the beloved series.

The character's are:

  • Gennadiy "Gena" Bukin, the bitter shoe salesman. Based on Al Bundy.
  • Evdokiya "Dasha" Bukina, the red-haired bonbon-eating lazy "housekeeper" from a crazy family. Based on Peggy Bundy.
  • Svetlana "Sveta" Bukina, the blonde ditz. Based on Kelly Bundy.
  • Roman "Roma" Bukin, the son and the Only Sane Man. Based on Bud Bundy.
  • Baron, the dog. Based both on Buck and Lucky.
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  • Sema Bukin, the little Deadpan Snarker. Based on Seven and, unlike the latter, does not leave after a few episodes, but his appearances are few and far between.
  • Elena "Lena" Poleno (formerly Stepanova) , the unpleasant next-door neighbor. Based on Marcy D'Arcy.
  • Anatoliy "Tolik" Poleno, Lena's freeloading husband. Based on Jefferson D'Arcy.
  • Evgeniy "Zhenya" Stepanov, Lena's ex-husband. Based on Steve Rhoades.

Other notable characters that were adapted from the original series:

  • Rafik Sharipov, Gena's first co-worker. Based on Luke Ventura.
  • Danila Krasnov, Gena's second co-worker. Based on Griff.
  • Officer Petrov, Gena's nemesis-turned-friend, a cop. Based on Officer Dan.
  • Sasha Samoilenko, Gena's boss. Based on Gary.
  • Marina Torotorkina, a reporter with a very rural accent. Based on Miranda Veracruz de la Hoya Cardinal.
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  • Evkakiy Bannyh, Dasha's father. Based on Emphraim Wanker.

Some few characters were created for the new episodes:

  • Katya Shvambramovich, Gena's second boss, after Sasha gets tired of the shoe store and sells it to her. She is young, rich, spoiled, and her mood oscillates between very mean, horny and (in rare cases) nice and pleasant.
  • Laura Larionovna, Gena's third and final boss, after Katya gives her the store. Gena and Katya's former school teacher, who values discipline, and loves reminding Gena how she always thought he would not get far in life.
  • Germaniy "Gera" Oslovskiy: Sveta's steady boyfriend for a dozen episodes. A brilliant student and a full-on nerd, he nevertheless manages to accept Sveta and her family's quirks. Unfortunately, he goes missing during a business trip.

For more details, read here. Reading our Useful Notes on Russia might help you enjoy the series. Now has a recap page.

The adapted episodes provide examples of the following:

  • Accidental Marriage: Discussed in the remake of "Married With... Who?": in an additional bit of dialogue, Dasha asks Lena how her marriage was even possible. Lena whips out her cellphone to call a friend of hers who works at the registry office, and learns that, while she was drunk out of her skull, she stood on her knees and begged her friend to marry her and Tolik, and when that didn't work, generously bribed her.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In a way, in the adapted (in fact, rewritten from scratch) episode "T*R*A*S*H", instead of Gena, Tolik and Danila being pitted against people on strike, this episode features prominently Lena and Tolik, and places the Bukins themselves as the antagonists.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Thirteen episodes where not remade Which ones? 
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • One might not realize how much time waiting for the live audience to laugh and calm down actually takes. Since this show didn't have a live audience, they could squeeze some more stuff in their versions of some episodes.
      • The remake of "Where's the Boss" was given an additional subplot where Gena and Zhenya try to get rid of an aggressive bum living in their staircase.
      • The remake of "How Green Was My Apple" has new scenes at the beginning (see Dacha below) .
      • The series started having cold opens very early on, and sometimes, when a scene could not be conveniently chopped off the rest of the episode to serve as such, they wrote a new one.
      • A new Running Gag has been added ever since Sema disappeared from the show: he either popped up in unexpected places doing jobs no child of his age should be doing, or a family member mentioned his absence and someone else provided an (often weird) explanation as to why he's not here at the moment.
    • Several bits of dialogue that have been cut from completed Married... with Children episodes due to time constraints have been reinstated here.
    • Happy Together has over 100 more episodes than Married... with Children, many set after the equivalent original episodes.
  • All There in the Manual: it was stated outside of the show that the reason the Bukins' apartment has a top floor is because Gena managed to buy off a part of the building's attic and made the rooms upstairs himself prior to the series' beginning, but it's never explained on the show itself.
  • Composite Character:
    • Baron does not die and reincarnate, thus becomes the Russian counterpart of both Buck and Lucky (well, they are technically the same character, but still) .
    • Also, Danila fills in for both Dexter (who appeared in only one episode) and Griff.
  • Creator Provincialism:
    • The Bukins and the Stepanovs/Polenos live in apartments on the top floor of a small building in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
    • References to American football have been replaced by references to soccer, with Gena's biggest achievement being a hat-trick (three goals in a single game) instead of four touchdowns.
    • Dasha's home town, instead of being full of (probably inbred) hicks, is populated by alcoholics.About its name 
  • Cut-and-Paste Translation: Done whenever possible, thus preserving most of the gags intact, and adding some new ones. Lucky Translation helps a lot.
  • Dacha: The Bukins win one in a lottery (next to Poleno's dacha), and the remake of "How Green Was My Apple" takes place there.
  • Demoted to Extra: Sema was made this (instead of being completely Brother Chucked out of the show like Seven).
  • Dub-Induced Plot Hole: Inverted, as unlike Bud and Kelly, Roma and Sveta have a consistent difference in age (thus, some of Bud's antics from the beginning of the show were rewritten to make Roma behave a little less childish).
  • Dub Name Change
  • Eagle Land: Instead of hating the French, Gena (ironically enough for a remake of an American show) hates Americans:
    Gena: They feed us with their damn burgers and cola, and they think we're all bears playing balalaikas.
  • Frozen in Time: It took only three years of really intensive work to adapt the whole series. While, in-universe, eleven years passed (with Christmas episodes being where they should be), the characters said it was 2006 in the beginning of the show and 2008 towards the end.
  • Fun with Subtitles: The remake of "Going Japanese" added a gag when Tolik sings karaoke in front of Lena's Japanese boss: while he sings, he is subtitled in the same manner as with a karaoke machine, and throughout the episode his singing becomes worse and worse, and the subtitles become more and more misspelled. The gag culminates with the subtitles simply giving up and the lyrics replaced with a simple line "You've sung enough, please stop".
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: Between scenes, depending on where the next scene is about to take place, either the Bukins' building or the city filmed from above is shown, with some weird purple bubbles. Once one gets used to it, it's not as bad as it sounds.
  • In Name Only: while the episode "Garbage producers" was supposed to be the remake of the episode "T*R*A*S*H" (and had all of the original credits intact) , the episode was in fact rewritten from scratch.
  • Laugh Track: sadly, no Studio Audience. While earliest episodes didn't have an annoying Laugh Track, latest episodes tend to overdo this. If only they had more than three samples...
  • Lost in Translation: Unfortunately, some recurring elements have been lost:
    • Gena ended up without a catchphrase (there are times when "Let's Rock" is consistently translated as "Poneslas'", but not often enough to be considered an actual catchphrase) .
    • Weenie Tots have been replaced with different foods in every episode where they're mentioned.
    • Gena doesn't have one favorite movie that he never manages to see, it's a different movie every time.
  • Playing Gertrude: The actors who play adults in their fourties are actually in their thirties or even late twenties. Sadly, it shows, and thus them being old borders on Informed Attribute. But their good portrayal of the characters and (except for Tolik/Jefferson) their resemblance to the original cast rescue them from the WTH, Casting Agency?.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: the producers chose not to adapt some of the episodes because the result wouldn't be good. Some of the episodes were rewritten to fit in the new setting.
  • Race Lift:
    • Griff's counterpart Danila is white, and so is Officer Dan's counterpart Officer Petrov (justified, as there are very few African people in Russia).
    • Instead of a Briard or a Cocker Spaniel, Baron the dog is a Bernese Mountain Dog.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: a Russian pop love song... sung by the actor who plays the local Jaded Washout in an annoyed voice.
  • Seduction-Proof Marriage: Gena Bukin is just as faithful to his wife as Al Bundy was, but in one episode he comes close to cheating on her, resolving the situation by having his wife wear a blonde wig to make her look like the new crush.
  • Setting Update: Considering the technological advances made since the original show ended, this was to be expected. While in the original show, Peggy wanted to get a video cassette recorder, in the remake Dasha wants to buy a DVD recorder. In the remake of "Joke's on Al", Roma only hooks up an answering machine to the phone to give it a retro feel. The episode "Computer Show" was not remade because of this. Also, see Creator Provincialism.

The new episodes provide examples of the following:

  • Absentee Actor: A lot of earliest new episodes don't feature either Dasha or Sveta. Some of latest episodes don't feature Gena (read Wham Episode below to find out why) .
  • And I Must Scream: while role-playing, Tolik handcuffs Lena to the bed... and is locked outside immediately after this.
  • Billy Needs an Organ: in one episode, Gena and Roma argue as to who gives a kidney to a dying huge-breasted model from Big'Uns.
  • Bottle Episode: an episode revolved around Gena trying to eat a stick of kielbasa in secret from his kids, but Tolik, Lena and Officer Petrov keep showing up. The entire episode takes place in the living room, just like "Johnny Be Gone" and "A Desperate Half-Hour".
  • Call-Back: a TV game where Gena, Roma and Sveta unwillingly participated required them to remember and reference some of the oldest episodes to answer the questions they were asked.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Subverted. Dasha becomes extremely obsessed with a new soap opera, where the main actress looks exactly like her. Despite there being No Name Given the actress is a brunette, just like the actress portraying Dasha is in real life.
  • Chaos Architecture: The Poleno's apartment has a different layout in the latter half of the series.
  • Continuity Nod: In an episode, Gena gets kidnapped (actually, rescued) by aliens, who thank him for giving them his socks a few years back.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Roma is revealed to have no sense of smell because of a toy stuck in his skull, just behind the nose (which explains why Bud/Roma always asked Kelly/Sveta to smell his perfume before going on a date). Once it's extracted, he develops an amazing sense of smell. But he decides to put the toy back in when he can't go out with an attractive girl who wears too much perfume.
  • Deathbed Confession: Just as Gena and Lena think the elevator they are in will fall and crash, Gena opens up on his famous hat-trick actually being not due to his skill, but to a combination of him breaking rules while the referee was not looking and dumb luck. Lena then reveals her maiden name (see Embarrassing Last Name below) .
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The Bukins finally resort to stealing in one episode. At the end, the angry neighbors take back the stolen goods and then some more, leaving the Bukins' house completely empty. Good thing there's Snap Back.
  • Embarrassing Last Name: Lena's maiden name has the word "chicken" in it, explaining her recurring berserk button.
  • For Want of a Nail: A season 6 episode explores an alternate timeline in which Gena never landed his hat-trick, thus never attracting the attention of Dasha.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Averted in one episode, where the Bukins risk losing their house because of unpaid debts.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Gera, Sveta's steady boyfriend in season 4.
  • Later Installment Weirdness: The final season has it in spades:
    • The show features a different version of the opening titles accompanied by a different version of the theme song.
    • A lot of sets look different, particularly the house as seen from the outside, and the shoe shop (the latter having been justified) , and a lot of them have different, darker colors to them.
    • The general tone is much more down to earth except for Sveta retaining her stupidity, the cartoonishness of the show having been considerably toned down.
    • The overall premise changes fundamentally halfway through the season after Dasha gets a job and Gena walks away from his family for good and moves in with Danila.
  • Left the Background Music On: A dramatic tune played first occasionally, then over and over in a "whodunit" episode is revealed to be Officer Petrov's ringtone.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: an American comes to stay at Bukin's place in one episode, and his Russian is not that good.
  • Nightmare Fuel: invoked. An episode centers on Gena having nightmares where Lena comes on to him, complete with a rather unsettling parody of The Ring.
  • Odd Couple: Dasha and Lena after they start working together.
  • Plot Tumor: Dasha became extremely obsessed with a new soap opera. First, she started dressing and behaving like the female main character, and even developed a split personality. Then, when the character fell into a coma, Dasha suffered the same fate (thus making her disappear from the show for a third time, if you remember the two times Peggy disappeared from the original show) . This Story Arc, considered mildly annoying by most fans, lasted for a dozen episodes.
  • Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: gender flipped. Zhenya comes back in an episode, desperate to win Lena back, and his behavior borders on this. The second time he comes back as Lena's new boss, his first order of business is to fire her.
  • Put on a Bus: In addition to Dasha's brief absence from the show, Sema gets a proper sendoff.
  • Series Continuity Error: Dasha can't stand her actual first name, Evdokiya, so she goes by Dasha, which is the Russian diminutive for Daria. In the final season however, everyone, including her family, seems to think that Daria is her real legal first name.
  • The Ophelia: Roma's one-episode girlfriend was convinced she was from outer space. Though The Tag shows her with a green skin and glowing eyes meaning that it's either a dream or The Cuckoolander Was Right.
  • Time Skip: because Real Life Writes the Plot, and the series always takes place in present day, the two year hiatus between the airings of the remade episodes and the airing of the new ones was written into the show.
  • Wham Episode: Halfway through the final season, Gena and Dasha learn that because of a mistake in an official record, they aren't legally married, but will be if they sign a document. While it looks like a regular sitcom situation where Gena would make Dasha do everything he wants, at the end Gena has one family-related mishap too many, flips out and walks away from his family. He moves in with his co-worker and never returns to his family after this. Status Quo Is God, you say?
  • Zeerust: In an episode, Gena sniffs a boot made of toxic materials and passes out for twenty years. The world he wakes up in is deliciously Troperrific.


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